Q&A: Diabetes

Your biggest questions about diabetes have been answered! Walgreens pharmacist Heidi Hilker responds to select Facebook and Twitter inquiries from Oz viewers. Learn more about diabetes.

Posted on | By Heidi Hilker | Comments ()

Jeanne B. from Facebook asks: How about you talk about how different Type 1 and Type 2 are?
Type 1 diabetes can develop when the body is unable to make insulin. When the body does not have enough insulin, it can’t turn sugar into a nutrient source for cells.  This will lead to high levels of sugar in the blood, which can cause damage to the body’s organs. Most often, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in children or young adults. People with type 1 diabetes will need insulin to keep their blood sugar normal.

Type 2 diabetes is a bit different from type 1, in that it can develop when the body is unable to properly use the insulin it makes. This will lead to high levels of sugar in the blood, because the body will not be able to turn all the sugar into a nutrient source for cells. Over time, people with type 2 diabetes can make less insulin, and in those cases, insulin may be needed to keep blood sugar normal. Often, type 2 diabetes is diagnosed in middle-aged to older adults; however, we are starting to see children and younger adults develop type 2 diabetes.

Chris C. from Facebook asks: Is diabetes reversible???
There are different types of diabetes that develop for different reasons. Type 1 diabetes is not reversible with today’s medicine. There are some people with type 2 diabetes that are able to significantly change their lifestyle habits and lose enough weight so that their blood sugar levels return to normal. These people will most likely continue to be closely watched by their doctor.

Carrie S. from Facebook asks: I come from a family of diabetics on both sides (almost everyone has it). Does this mean I am going to get it? Can I get some tips to possibly avoid it if possible.
While type 2 diabetes has a genetic component, lifestyle choice and weight have a large influence over whether someone will develop diabetes. Also, it is important to understand that the younger people are when they develop diabetes, the more likely they may be to develop complications. Making changes that can delay the onset of diabetes, will also have a significant impact on your overall health. There are some things you can do to prevent or delay diabetes. One is to lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Even losing just 5% to 7% of your body weight can help. Physical activity, which can help with weight loss as well, can have a big impact on lowering risk for developing diabetes. The recommendation by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity five days per week. Finally, making healthier food choices, such as reducing unhealthy carbohydrates, increasing fruits and vegetables, and eating lean proteins and reduced fat dairy, will help as well. The DA website has more tips on reducing your risk for diabetes. (www.diabetes.org)

Carolyn H. from Facebook asks: Why do glucose readings go higher the longer you fast?
There are many places that your body gets glucose from. One source is from the foods you eat. Your body also can make a small amount of glucose as well. This is important because your brain and other organs need a constant supply of glucose. If you don’t eat for a long enough period of time, your body may think that it needs to make glucose to keep your organs well supplied. However, for other people (especially in those with type 1 diabetes), fasting may lead to abnormally low blood glucose. 

Ce P. from Facebook asks: What exactly is borderline diabetes? Can it turn into full blown diabetes??
Borderline diabetes is another name for pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Pre-diabetes can turn into diabetes, particularly if changes to lifestyle or weight loss do not occur. In fact up to 30% of people with pre-diabetes can develop diabetes if they do not make changes within the next 5 years. 

Carolyn A. from Twitter asks: Wondering for my mom, what the signs of pre diabetes would be.
Those with pre-diabetes often do not have any symptoms. Even people with diabetes do not always have symptoms. Many people have pre-diabetes and they do not know it. The symptoms of pre-diabetes could be similar to diabetes symptoms. Some symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst or hunger, unintentional weight loss, tiredness, urinating often, blurry vision, tingling, pain or numbness in hands or feet, or cuts that heal slowly. While there is no way to know for sure if someone has pre-diabetes or diabetes without further evaluation by a physician, taking the American Diabetes Association risk test can estimate how high your risk is. You can find the test here.

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Article written by Heidi Hilker
Walgreens pharmacist